Blogging Once Again!

September 18, 2011 • General

Good day to everyone out the chess world. It seems like forever since I last blogged and I am really not sure where to begin, however it appears that I left everyone hanging at the beginning of the summer (is it really gone already?) and I will start there.


In June, I began my summer chess schedule by competing in the Bazna Kings tournament held in Bazna, Romania. Having never been to Romania, I was pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the locals. The town itself was very quiet and quaint, and it hearkens back to a different time before modern technology. One of my lasting images is seeing children herding cattle across roads which aren’t completely paved. Sometimes it is truly refreshing to see this considering how many of us (I’m fairly guilty too) spend our time in front of computers and tv screens these days.

The tournament itself was a mixed bag. I blew several promising chances against Radjabov, (twice) Karjakin (twice) and Ivanchuk (with White). It would have been a decent result had I not completely self-destructed in the final round against Ivanchuk with Black to finish with a very undesirable score of 4.5/10. Nevertheless I felt pretty positive about everything as a whole considering the opportunities I missed.


July was one of the more interesting months in recent memory. Much to the chagrin of many in the chess community, I went out to Las Vegas for a week to play some cash games as well as the Main Event at the 2011 World Series of Poker. I have played a lot of poker (mainly PLO Heads-Up) on and off over the past five years. Without saying a whole lot on the topic, I feel very strongly that online poker in the United States should be legal and I cannot imagine what it feels like to the thousands of people who lost legitimate jobs because of Black Friday.

Hanging out with Jennifer Shahade, Katie Stone as well as meeting new people in the poker/chess community and seeing many old faces such as Ylon Schwartz from chess who have quit for poker was a blast from the past. I had a pretty good day 1 as I started with 30k and closed with 53.2k chips all while playing a solid-aggressive game and trying to avoid getting into any major pots with dangerous pros like Galen Hall who were at my table. Day 2, was much more brutal as I was at a table with several hyper aggressive raisers combined with a lack of cards made for a rough day. Nevertheless, I still managed to get it all-in with 20BBs and KK in a squeeze situation. Unfortunately, my opponent was able to outflop me with his 88 and I busted a few hours before the end of the day. All in all it was a fun experience.

After the hoopla in Vegas, I flew back to St. Louis for a few days before heading off to Dortmund, Germany to compete in the Sparkassen Chess Festival along with GMs Kramnik,Giri,Le Quang, Meier and Ponomariov. The tournament got off to a very bad start when I was unable to sleep at all prior to my game with Giri. Somehow I managed to draw this game, but I do not recommend attempting to play a game of competitive chess if you haven’t slept in close to 20 hours prior to the start (not to mention the game going 7 hours GOOD GRIEF). After drawing a relatively easy game with Black against Le Quang, I simply got outplayed by Ponomariov in a structure which I was unfamiliar with. The 4th round against Kramnik was headed for a routine draw until I completely lost my mind and decided to lose instead! The 5th round against Meier was a super-sharp Kings Indian which was highly unclear until I made a critical blunder before time control. Luckily for me, he let matters get complicated and I was able to hang on for dear life until the 8th hour of play and salvage a draw. After drawing two more shaky games in rounds 6 and 7, I promptly lost again in the 8th round against Ponomariov from an equal endgame. Despite the multiple disasters, I finished strongly by beating Meier and Kramnik to turn a catastrophic result into only a bad one.


Right after Dortmund ended, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and compete in the 2011 US Chess Open in Orlando, Florida. Having not played a tournament in the US for 15 months, I was not sure what to expect. The first shocker was that the tournament was being held in the airport hotel. I assumed that I would be sitting on beaches and playing in relaxed conditions, but that illusion was shattered…sadly. I had a decent tournament scoring 7.5/9 and tying for first. However, with such a high rating I dropped a whopping 5 points and fell out of the top 10 at least for the moment. After two bad tournaments in a row, I decided to take the rest of August off from chess and poker (more or less) and drove from St. Louis to Vancouver in my BMW (highly recommended brand). Taking three weeks off from chess to see my many friends up north was truly refreshing and reminded me of why I fell in love with the people and the culture there back in 2008.


Coming off my long vacation, I returned to St. Louis just in time for the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame ( and to compete in the Kings vs. Queens match at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis ( The opening of the HOF was incredible with all the history in the building, and I highly recommend to anyone dropping through Saint Louis to stop by and see it.

I also competed in the Kings vs. Queens event where I scored a whopping 9.5/10 against the womens field which was comprised of Kosteniuk, Lahno, Krush, Zatonskih and Fierro. Although the women would have done better had GM Judit Polgar been able to play, it was still a fun event and everyone involved had a good time. It also served as a good warmup for the Grand Slam Final which begins on September 25th in Sao Paulo, Brazil and ends on October 11th in Bilbao, Spain. Until then, I will just continue to study and give it a whirl once the event begins!


St. Louis, MO



  1. Your honesty is refreshing as well and humourous Naka. Admitting you make mistakes makes it easier for us patzers to keep playing and trying.

  2. You sound like a prick when you write things like “drove from St. Louis to Vancouver in my BMW (highly recommended brand).” No one is impressed. People will be impressed when you successfully put ass in chair and study like the pro you want to be. You don’t even have to win to make me proud. The work is where the honor is, and the wins will come when you work.

  3. Robert. You also sound like a huge prick when you go on a personal blog and call the blogger out for his personal feelings on which car he drives. That’s how he feels about it and so he writes about it. If you don’t like that I’m sure you can find other things to read. Also who the F are you to tell him how to study to make you proud? Are you his father because even then you have no justification to tell him what to do. Just read what he chooses to share if you so choose and don’t go insulting the man for what he chose to share.

    Hikaru, thanks for the blog and sorry for the white knighting. Look into some mechanism to adjust your sleeping when traveling overseas if you haven’t done so already. Good luck on your next tournament.

  4. Still want to visit the club in St Louis. I wanted to get either a photograph of you playing at the tournament from 2009 for championship, or a portrait photograph. Where can I buy a photograph? Would love to have you sign it.

    We are building up our Green Bay Wi chess club and our annual Green Bay Open Chess Championship. Have had 35 consecutive years, and I am donating $1000 top purse for 2012 tournament.

  5. yeah, u are a rest-> win player

  6. Hikaru,

    I’m a big fan of yours, and enjoy watching you compete at the highest levels. Having grown up in the US during the 60s and 70s, I came to chess via the Bobby Fischer craze. Naturally, I am hoping that you will be the next great American threat to win the world championship.

    More important than your success at Corus, though, is the thoughtfulness and grace you demonstrated in signing roll-up boards for my son and daughter during the 2006 World Open. You had just lost a tough game to Kaceishvili (spelling?), but when I approached you with an autograph request, you shook off your disappointment, put on a smile, and signed for my kids. The character you demonstrated gave me every reason I could ever want to be a big HN fan as long as I have the ability to push pawns.

    I was naturally very excited when you announced earlier this year (in March?) that you wanted to skip the US Championship in order to prepare to challenge for the world championship. That’s a trade-off I’ll accept any day, even more than giving up a pawn as black in the Benko Gambit!

    I hope you will understand my confusion and disappointment, then, as I (along with many of your fans, I’m sure) try to figure out why you skipped this year’s World Cup. I would have thought, given your orientation and determination that you displayed earlier this year, that you would have arranged your schedule and training to point toward competing for a berth in next year’s Candidates tournament. I hope you can address this question soon in a post, as I (and those others) are cheering you on and hoping the best for you in your quest.

    Thanks and best wishes for continuing success…

    Chris Falter

  7. Or perhaps I should say: good luck and good chess! Just relax, and enjoy the remarkable experience through thick and thin…you’ll be in great fighting shape.

  8. I was wondering why you did not play in the world cup and now you say you passed on a chance to play for a spot for the world championship…….to play in Kings vs Queens in stl?! 9.5/10? I am unable to understand unless you want to play at a later time for a chance to become world champ or you do not want to become the world champ.. if you would, please explain! St Louis would of let you out of any agreement you might of had that could of paved the way to bring the championship back to the USA and of course ST LOUIS!?!? just a fan trying to follow your career..

  9. Hikaru, do you think you have any/good chances to become WC one day? pls I need a serious honest answer! Im a big fan btw… cheers!

  10. Barone (Italy)

    IF there’s anything true in these rumors (whychess page signaled: I’m just a reader), even partially so:
    www whychess org/node/2018
    I think fans should trust Nakamura for his calendar’s choices.
    Here basically two best wishes look possible to be granted: first a work or collaboration of some sort with the great Kasparov (who, beside helping Carlsen evolution, still wins at rapidchess against french top GMs), and second (first again, really!) a “free” ticket for USA number one player for the next next Candidates Tournament which would be played in the United States (and would you exclude St.Louis as a location?).

    I repeat, IF any part of this possibilities is half true, no fan should be concerned!

  11. So, it is good to play like Kamsky?! If only! Last time Kamsky played Aronian, he won. 😉

  12. Grab the initiative if you can in Bilbao. ithink Anand and Carlsen got punished for not doing so. Why not go for a win as long as you can still defend your pieces? I cannot imagine the pressure you must feel playing, but the main thing is to seek truth at the board.

  13. Lou Thurston

    Thanks for writing. You seem remarkably sane for someone at the top of the worlds most difficult and grueling sport.

  14. Hello grandmaster
    Congratulations on a fine performance in Sao Paulo! Fantastic to be undefeated against the top 3 in the world plus Ivanchuk and a win against Vallejo.
    All the best in Bilbao. I’ve made predictions on my blogsite, am expecting you and Carlsen to win the tournament on +2!

  15. stop making excuses as to why ivanchuk crushed you. when will you stop being a little insecure boy?

  16. Barone (Italy)

    Maybe this is not the Armenian world-top-three tournament of the year, but you outplayed Aronian in every phase of the game:
    nice job!

  17. Congrats for very good 1st half in Sao Paulo!!

    Please dont be a CRY BABY N STOP YOUR EXCUSES!!!

    Time to GROW Up!!! You are super GM

  18. Kaminari Kuma

    Thirsty, huh?

  19. Kaminari Kuma

    Thirsty, huh?

  20. I think you have great reason for optimism coming out of Bilbao.

    * Setting aside the last game against Vallejo, you had a plus score.
    * Even result with Carlsen, who had been very tough previously
    * The protocol for the last moves in time control will now be second nature. Better to clear this one out of the way during a tournament, rather than have it as a potential landmine when you play in a match for the world championship.

    The last result against Vallejo reminds me of professional golfers who get a terrific score competitively, but have to relinquish the competitive result due to an inadvertent protocol violation. A notable incident at the 1992 Million Dollar Challenge (per

    During the [third] round, [Nick] Price hit a drive into the fairway and his caddie moved an advertising board which was 25 yards ahead of Price’s ball. The sign was classified as an immovable obstruction, so Price should have gotten a free drop. He didn’t know that, and after his round when his scorecard was already signed, Price learned that he should have dropped instead of taking the sign down. That meant that Price had signed an incorrect scorecard. Even though local officials told Price that he could change the card, Price rejected the offer and left the scoring table, thus disqualifying himself from the tournament. Instead of a chance at either the $1 million winner’s check or the runner-up check of $300,000, Price got $105,000.”

    Nick Price subsequently enjoyed tremendous success. According to his wikipedia bio,

    “By the mid-nineties, Price was regarded as the best player in the world, and in 1994 he won two majors back-to-back, The [British] Open and the PGA Championship, adding to his first major, the 1992 PGA Championship. He topped the PGA Tour money list in 1993 and 1994, setting a new earnings record each time, and spent 43 weeks at number one in the Official World Golf Rankings. Price was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.”

  21. Nakamura Robbed at shot to win Master’s Tournament

    October 12, 2011 12:01 am
    Vassily Ivanchuk was robbed in Brazil. He was sitting in a cab near the Hotel door with his wife. He was looking foward to flying to Spain as the leader of the Master’s Tournament. To his shock men with guns approach and to Nakamura’s shock, a man comes to the chess table and steals his shot at winning the tournament when he is told he has lost the game!

    Tournament/Hotel Security did nothing to prevent these crimes. They just stood by and let it take place. In Spain, the robbery happened inside the Master’s Tournament hall, in plain daylight for everyone to see. In Spain, a tournament official stood by and let it happen and did nothing to prevent it.

    Yes, I have read about everything you can about this event and all about the rules, yet I maintain a robbery took place. Not only was GM Nakamura robbed at a chance to win the tounament, but all the chess fans around the world are victims too.

    This robbery could of and should of been stopped, a very easy action to take without anyone being in danger of being hurt, but in this case Nakamura was injured because nothing was done.

    I think him and Carlsen made a deal for their last game of the tournament, let’s keep an eye on the Ivanchuk game and make a easy draw and then Carlen and Ivanchuk can play for 1st place.

    Back to the robbery….An official being paid to watch the game and make decisions about who or who may or may not win this game, stood by and did nothing. He claims he did not nod his head when he was asked if time control had been achieved. He goes on to justify his actions by saying the rules do not allow him to do anything.

    This reminds me of the U.N. standing by watching crimes against humans takes place. They have to stand there and do nothing because of the rules. Really?

    The chess official just stood there and watched the victim get up and walk away from the game, all of this after he was asked if time control was reached! By the way, who is allowed to answer the question that was asked?

    Modern day chess demands a new way to look at the game. Some of the rules require a rewrite. Games now are being broadcasted through out the world and fans are there in cyberspace in real time. Technology has changed the way the game is played. By the way, in a classical tournament, blitz has no place to decide who wins 1st place. The 2 are very different games of chess. Imagine in baseball there is extra inning and the batter only gets one pitch to hit. After this crime took place and the buzz died down, a lot of the fans lost interest in the tournament. Who wants to be a witness of such an event?

    Well, I am sure a lot of chess fans will have a different view. I will like to hear from you.



    Victim has to say: “I’ve lost many chessgames and I’ve won my fair share too, but none have been this painful ever. Thankfully there are other things in life”. Unquote: He was robbed!

  22. I think most of us chalk that one up as a win for you for the tournament in Bilbao.

    And as far as the world championship goes, take your time. No need to do everything immediately.


  23. Barone (Italy)

    Rules are rules, and shit happens.
    As a third cent: remember you’re a very lucky person.

  24. Barone (Italy)

    Rules are rules, and shit happens.
    As a third cent: remember you’re a very lucky person.

  25. Sh*t happens as they say and you say Barone! and I say No shit? and rules are rules…. I was expecting so much more out of you!

    Do you poop in your bed or do you go to a place where most of us just poop and flush!
    It is a disgrace to poop on the chess board in the tournament room!

    We can prevent certain things and being robbed in plain daylight in Brazil and in the tournament room in Spain are two examples ….

    I raised a lot of points to be discussed and I get shit happens and your lucky….maybe you do not know a lot of english words to write……just like I could not write much in your language….oh excuse me i have to scoreggiare! I am feeling a little weak today…last night was sfatto!

  26. Chris Falter


    Perhaps you should add a “report abuse” button for comments, so the community can help keep your blog respectful. There are some vicious trolls who like to visit your blog and treat it like a bathroom stall.

  27. Barone (Italy)

    Hi aerodarts.
    I hope you get better soon…
    In the meantime let me apologize not to have seen your GREAT comment, and posting mine as an incouragement for the GM who owns this blog: I just meant to say that sometimes you can lose a game on a misunderstanding and/or not thinking about the smallest wrinkle of the tournament’s rule-book, and still you can live on taking the bad episode as a normal accident.
    On the other side, I think that Nakamura is not likely to become the next Chess talent to fall into maniacal paranoia despite whatever me or you might write on the comments to his post. So keep spitting your venom, if you like, but this is the last interaction you’ll get from me.
    Farewell, minchione!

  28. perfectionnk

    Good post Hikaru, Having a place to read details, I really like your blog as the articles are so simple to read and follow.
    Swindon Web Designers | Web Design Sydney

  29. Pingback: Startling Blitz Moves | Blogs, The Chess Mind | Chess Tactics … |

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